South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Kitty Meow Headlines Inaugural SOBEWFF Drag Brunch

Kitty Meow Headlines Inaugural SOBEWFF Drag Brunch
Courtesy of SOBEWFF
click to enlarge Kitty Meow - COURTESY OF SOBEWFF
Kitty Meow
Courtesy of SOBEWFF

Not many people know how Shawn Palacious — one of Miami's most legendary queens — received her drag name.

"It was because of my long, claw-like nails," says Palacious, whose alter ego is the edgy feline queen Kitty Meow.

Those nails are just one small nod to her iconic style — loud, elaborate costumes inspired by the Bahamian street parades known as Junkanoo. One day it's feathers and boas; the next it's a glittering gold number that blinds from head to toe.

From her early days as a fashion design student waiting in line to gain access to '80s spots such as Warsaw Ballroom and Torpedo, to working the door at South Beach's once-infamous club Paragon, no one can hold a room quite like Kitty Meow. That's why she'll MC the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's inaugural Drag Brunch.

Meow likens SOBEWFF to her early days at Paragon when it comes to star sightings.

"Gianni Versace and his partner would bring celebrities all the time. One week it was Sting or Naomi Campbell, and the next it was a troupe of models. I'll never forget the day he introduced me to [Vogue editor] André Leon Talley."

Foodies will feel the same starry-eyed wonder when attending the 18th-annual SOBEWFF. This year's festival will offer more than 100 events where an estimated 70,000-plus attendees will feast with celebrity restaurateurs and chefs. As with last year's edition, a growing lineup of Crave series events represents the fest's continued expansion into Broward County. Among them is the new Drag Brunch.

For the event, South Florida's most talented chefs were tasked with creating dishes inspired by the charismatic personalities of the area's most popular drag performers, including Power Infiniti, Electra, Erika Norell, Tiffany Fantasia, Champagne Bordeaux, and Daisy Deadpetals.

"I don't think we would see all these performers together in one room if it weren't for an event such as this," Meow says.

With a winning combination of mimosas and high-energy performances, drag brunches have grown in popularity in South Florida over the past few years. Meow's favorites include Drag Yourself to Brunch, starring TP Lords at Georgie's Alibi in Wilton Manors every Saturday, and Brunchic at the Palace Bar, where the aisles between tables serve as an informal runway on Sundays.

Every weekend, drag queens reign supreme at many spots that host brunches across South Florida. Thanks to increased LGBTQ activism, these weekend events are also wildly popular in cities such as Austin, New York, and San Francisco.

Meow issues a warning about SOBEWFF's Drag Brunch: It will not be a relaxing time to nurse a hangover with a plate of eggs. Instead, guests can expect to belt out some Beyoncé — alongside a Beyoncé impersonator — while forking a pile of pancakes.

Attendees can also expect to be entertained by radio personality Elvis Duran and his fiancé Alex Carr, who will host the event.

During this glitter-and-feather-adorned affair, patrons can howl, sing, and cheer while the queens channel celebrities in performances that include everything from lip syncing in sky-high heels to interacting with guests.

The food and drinks will be equally fabulous. Attendees can sip free-flowing cocktails while enjoying performances by the talent influencing the event's cuisine.

Drag Brunch will also help kick off Pride Fort Lauderdale weekend through a new collaboration, Meow adds. This year's expanded parade will take place the same weekend in South Beach, making the event particularly poignant. "This is going to be the drag brunch to remember, South Florida," Meow says. "Be there."

Drag Brunch. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, February 23, at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, 1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $125 via sobewff.org/drag.

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna